Historic St. John’s Church Built In 1815-1816 Near the White House Is Set On Fire

OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Rioters set ablaze one of the oldest in-use churches in D.C. last night as the sixth consecutive night of rioting continued across our nation.

This historic church was founded in 1815 to serve Episcopalians in western Washington.

According to the churches website:

“The cornerstone of St. John’s was set on September 14, 1815. St. John’s first service was held on October 27, 1816, and the church was consecrated on December 27, 1816. Beginning with James Madison, until the present, every person who has held the office of President of the United States has attended a service at St. John’s. Several early Presidents were communicants, as were more recent ones. Thus, St. John’s is known as “the Church of the Presidents” and is registered as a National Historic Landmark. Pew 54 is the President’s Pew, and is reserved for the President’s use when in attendance at the church.”

This weekend I sat and watched as our cities burn across the country. Where is leadership from the cities and states? Why are they letting their cities burn to the ground? Then I realized that every city burning is run by Democratic leadership.

You can call that divisive if you want, but I don’t care. There is a correlation between the way Republicans run our cities and the way Democratic leadership runs theirs. It is as if they want to see our country in flames. Nothing is sacred anymore, and we see that to be true with the burning of our nation’s history.

This is the last church where Abraham Lincoln worshiped before he was assassinated. This is an active church with active parishioners, and these rioters burned it to the ground.

I can tell you that it probably wasn’t anyone protesting for George Floyd. No, this was the work of leftist extremist groups like ANTIFA that came in to exploit the situation and burn down America. The people responsible deserve to be tried for treason, and their options include fines, prison, and/or death. We need the harshest penalties brought down on these domestic terrorists so that this never happens again.

We cannot let this type of terrorism take place in America. Burning our history has nothing to do with George Floyd’s death, and it will do nothing to bring him back. If we want to move forward as a country, we have to stop these rioters forcefully.

The reaction to the church burning was that of sadness, shock, and despair. The church put out a statement saying:

Dear Parishioners,

We write to you with heavy, but hopeful hearts. Our community and our country are in anguish and unrest. And yet, we can see that thousands of people are lifting their voices and organizations are engaging in peaceful, meaningful action to ensure the life of George Floyd and countless others are not lost in vain. As Bishop Curry wrote this morning , in the upcoming days and weeks, we will unite as a church community to follow the path of love and to channel this anguish into concrete, productive and powerful action.

Given the recent media coverage of the protests, you may be concerned about our beloved church and parish house. We are fortunate that the damage to the buildings is limited. There is some exterior graffiti, and the protective glass over one of the more modern stained-glass windows on the north side of the narthex has been broken (the stained glass itself is unharmed). Thankfully, there is no damage inside either of the buildings. This morning we secured, as best we could, our most valuable items.

As you know, today is Pentecost, one of the church’s primary feasts. If we had been in church, we would surely have sung Sweet, Sweet Spirit , a St. John’s favorite. You know the words: “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, and I know it’s the spirit of the Lord. Sweet holy spirit, sweet heavenly dove, stay right here with us, filling us with your love.” Hymn 120, Lift Every Voice and Sing, II . It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate prayer for the place in which we as a nation find ourselves.

We promise to keep you up to date on any developments over the coming days. When it is possible, we will repair the physical damage to our church. Please pray that our country can heal the wounds laid bare by the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd.

We are proud to be a church that welcomes all and champions the path of love.

In peace,

The Rev. Rob Fisher, Rector
Paul Barkett, Senior Warden
Jeff Hanston, Junior Warden

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It is essential in times like this to not lose faith. We have to continue to pray for America and all her people that we may find peace and healing.

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